The Election of Donald J. Trump

The Election of Donald J. Trump

Soon after I awoke, the day after Election Day, I thought of that famous quotation:

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The next four years will be frightful, indeed. Our already bleak prospects for saving the planet, have now shrunk considerably. January 20, 2017, will mark the beginning of the reign of the Archie Bunker presidency. And I don’t mean that to sound funny. This is quite serious.

Maybe the economy will be better under a Trump presidency. Maybe it will be worse. Maybe it will be much better. Maybe it will be much worse. Time will be the arbiter. But that’s not what’s important. President Bill Clinton said he kept the following phrase on a wall in the Oval Office to anchor his focus: “It’s the economy, stupid.” But what we really need to focus our attention on, is this: “It’s the ecology, stupid.” (e.g., read the brief intro on the Nowhere on our radar page)

Let me illustrate just how serious the ecological crisis is (while simultaneously clarifying what I mean when I say we are “destroying the planet”). A paper published in the journal Nature, on June 7, 2012 (Anthony D. Barnosky, et. al., “Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere”) touched upon this topic, as reflected in its abstract (this is the first half of the paper’s abstract):

Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence.

The paper opens with this sentence: “Humans now dominate Earth, changing it in ways that threaten its ability to sustain us and other species.” And concludes with a paragraph that lists several steps we need to take, including “reducing world population growth and per-capita resource use.” When was the last time you heard a president or presidential candidate, in this country, talk about reducing world population growth or per-capita resource use? How about never!

(Note: Papers such as this one that I’ve just cited aren’t intended for the general public. They are written primarily for the scientific community and contain sentences such as this: “Threshold-induced state shifts, or critical transitions, can result from ‘fold bifurcations’ and can show hysteresis.”)